I will soon be doing the west coast of North America, at the moment i'm thinking of driving with a friend as we want to do san fran, Yosemite, Utah, gran can and la. I have got a book from STA travel with the trips they do and wondered if anyone had done one and whether they are worth the time and money? The only downfall I have with them is the limitation on days
From my experience of STA they turned out to be super expensive. I'd look into making your own way around N. America and see if the costs will differ by much. By all means, use them for pointers in the right direction, advise on where to stop etc.
The agent at STA tried to charge me £940 for one way flights from London to Auckland, NZ. I researched and found them at £620, that's quite a difference and it shows that you're more than likely paying for more than your tour...
Plus, you won't be limited to how many days you can spend and activities you can do. You and your friend can do whatever you like, and if you end up spending more that what you would've with STA at least it would be tailored to what you wanted to do, and for however long.
I've never found STA to be good value either. If you are going to book with a travel agent I would suggest Trailfinders instead as I've always found them to be the cheapest and offer the best service.
Also if you do decide to do a tour, it's probably better to book with the tour company direct as that way you know you are getting the best price and not the price that STA are selling them at. Intrepid and G Adventures both offer a really good range of tours (I've used them both on a number of occasions) but there are lots of other companies out there who will offer tours in the USA.
Any group tours will always be expensiver than booking yourself plus inflexible in terms of activities and sights you go to. STA travel are targetted to students but are not the cheapest at all. Skyscanner for flights, hotels.com, hostelbookers, trailfinders etc will all be cheaper.
As mentioned, it will be MUCH cheaper to book trips yourself once out there at local travel agents who will be located everywhere.